Skip to content
There are 16 teaspoons of sugar in a regular 600ml soft drink. You wouldn’t eat that amount of sugar, so why would you drink it?
Cancer Council encourages South Australians to rethink their intake of sugary drinks and take steps today to reduce their consumption.

Sugary drinks, also known as sugar-sweetened beverages, are products that are low in nutritional value, but contain plenty of kilojoules. Australia’s dietary guidelines consider these as ‘discretionary foods’; in other words, they are not needed in your diet because they have little or no nutritional value and should be limited.

Sugary drinks refer to all non-alcoholic, water-based beverages with added sugar, including:

  • soft drink (excluding diet or artificially sweetened varieties)
  • flavoured mineral water
  • sports drinks
  • energy drinks
  • sugar sweetened teas
  • fruit and vegetable drinks
  • cordial

The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with increased energy intake, weight gain and obesity.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing certain types of cancer including common forms such as bowel, kidney, liver, pancreas, oesophagus, endometrium and post-menopausal breast cancer, as well as many other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

View our position statement endorsed by Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Australia and the Heart Foundation.

The key difference between sugary drinks and fruit juice is that fruit juice can provide valuable nutrients, but most types naturally contain a similar amount of sugar and kilojoules to soft drinks. A piece of fresh fruit is a better alternative to a glass of juice; it contains more fibre and fewer kilojoules.

If you do choose to drink fruit juice:

  • Choose 100 per cent fruit juice (avoid sweetened varieties)
  • Limit to 125 ml or half a glass per day
  • Choose small serving sizes from juice bars
  • Try diluting juice with water or ice

Milk provides important nutrients like protein and calcium. Dairy foods are a core component of a healthy diet and the Australian dietary guidelines recommended daily consumption of milk, particularly reduced-fat varieties for adults and children above the age of two.

Flavoured milks can contain a lot of added sugars and therefore kilojoules. Plain, reduced-fat varieties are the better choice. If you choose to drink flavoured milk, select the smaller sized drinks (375 ml or less) with no added sugar.

Water is the best drink for your body. It is essentially free from the tap, contains no kilojoules and is the best fluid for hydration.

To help you drink more water and add variety:

  • Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
  • Pop ice cubes made from fruit into your glass of water.
  • Keep a glass of water handy on your desk, or a bottle of water in your bag or backpack.

If you enjoy a little fizz in your drink, try:

  • soda water or plain mineral water with fresh lemon or lime juice
  • soda water with cut up slices of fruit like oranges and strawberries, vegetables like cucumber and/or mint leaves

Visit for more information.

Sugary drinks resource

Download resource